February 05, 2019

Cinema 2018: Top Foreign-Language Classics

Out of about 40 foreign-language classics (movies at least five years old) I watched for the first time in 2018, these are my top ten (in alphabetic order):

  • 'City of Life and Death' (2009/China) by Lu Chuan: Stunning black and white cinematography and war sequences choreographed with such detail, precision, and ambition that it will leave you awestruck. Looking forward to watch more movies by the director, especially 'The Missing Gun' (2002) and 'Mountain Patrol' (2004).
  • 'The Four Times' (2010/ Italy) by Michelangelo Frammartino: Strictly for art-house lovers, the film had an award-winning premiere at Cannes. The director's 'The Gift' (2003) is now on my wishlist.  
  • 'Goodbye, Dragon Inn' (2003/ Taiwan) by Tsai Ming-liang: Another art-house piece that celebrates cinema in the most unique way, this is the fourth film that I have watched of its director. Unforgettable, to say the least.
  • 'Kung Fu Hustle' (2004/ Hong Kong) by Stephen Chow: Nominated for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe award, this is the perfect movie to watch with friends. A hilarious action-comedy, this is as good as martial art movies get. Need to watch 'Shaolin Soccer' soon.
  • 'Landscape in the Mist' (1988/ Greece) by Theo Angelopoulos: Perhaps my most favorite film on this list, and definitely most heart-breaking, I watched it thanks to the subscription of mubi.com I took last year. Definitely need to watch the director's 'The Travelling Players' next - his most acclaimed film, they say.
  • 'The Misfortunates' (2009/ Belgium) by Felix van Groeningen: Watched this film as part of my research on alcoholism, and loved it. The director is more commonly known for his Oscar-nominated 'The Broken Circle Breakdown' and last year's 'Beautiful Boy'.
  • 'Neighboring Sounds' (2012/ Brazil) by Kleber Mendonca Filho: The director is better known for his later more controversial 'Aquarius' (2016), but I loved 'Neighboring Sounds' way more. I could watch it thanks to mubi. Looking forward to his third feature - 'Nighthawk' that will come out this year.
  • 'The Piano Teacher' (2001/France-Austria) by Michael Haneke: A big winner at Cannes, this is perhaps the most acclaimed film on this list and my sixth Haneke film. I hope to watch 'The Seventh Continent' and 'Time of the Wolf' this year to finish watching most of his acclaimed works.
  • 'A Room in Town' (1982/ France) by Jacques Demy: My fourth Demy film, this one was a delight. Every line of the film is sung, and it works so, so well. Need to watch 'Bay of the Angels' soon.
  • 'This is Not a Film' (2011/ Iran) by Jafar Panahi: The political context of this film cannot be separated from it, and without the context the film may not appeal to many people. But this film is special for exactly the same reason. For its use of the medium, and the story behind it, this, and many films by Panahi, will never be forgotten. I need to watch 'The Mirror' (1997) and '3 Faces' (2018) to finish his entire filmography, so far.

February 03, 2019

Cinema 2018: Top English-Language Classics

For this list I have considered all English-language films which are at least five years old and I watched for the first time in 2018. About 72 movies were considered and I am glad that the final list is so diverse in genre.

  • 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford' (2007): The first Andrew Dominik film I watched, this one is a true epic. Beautifully shot by Roger Deakins and some great acting by Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck. I definitely need to watch more from this director, and hope to watch 'Chopper' and 'Killing Them Softly' this year.
  • 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999): Totally worth all the hype, this film is a text-book on terror. The film grossed four thousand times its budget and started the trend of found-footage horror.
  • 'Blue Valentine' (2010): I was aware that this is a sad film, but didn't know why or how. It took me by surprise. 2018 was the year when I was amazed by the acting of Michelle Williams. Two movies on this list feature terrific performances by her.
  • 'Good Night, and Good Luck' (2005): How have so many American stars managed to direct such amazing films, especially in the 21st century? George Clooney has done so well, directing this political drama. Although his other films have received mixed reviews, I think 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind' may be worth-watching.
  • 'JFK' (1991): More than three hours long but such a gripping narrative! My favorite Oliver Stone film, perhaps. This, or 'Platoon'. Need to watch 'Salvador' and 'Wall Street' soon.
  • 'Margaret' (2011): 56-year old Kenneth Lonergan has made only three feature films in eighteen years. I have watched all three and now the time has come to rewatch them. To study how he uses his actors so well. To study how he writes with such psychological depth. If 'Manchester by the Sea' is a study of grief, 'Margaret' is a study of guilt.
  • 'Mean Girls' (2004): I never expected I would love this film so much. Not only I was amazed by it, I also studied its screenplay around year end. What this film has done to me is enormous. I am now going to be way more open to chick flicks and rom coms than I ever was.
  • 'Munich' (2005): I have watched 22 Spielberg films so far. And his work continues to amaze me. So many genres, such different stories, and such mastery over the craft. I need to watch 'Temple of Doom', 'Empire of the Sun', 'The Color Purple' and 'Minority Report' this year.
  • 'Notting Hill' (1999): Again, I wasn't expecting to be so impressed by this film. Truly enjoyed it and learnt a lot about the rom-com genre.
  • 'Wendy and Lucy' (2008): This 80-minute gem finally made me a fan of Kelly Reichardt ('Old Joy' and 'Certain Women'). Need to watch 'Meek's Cutoff' soon. And need to rewatch 'Wendy and Lucy' again and again.